Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Asserting Identity
Yes, I Am a Jew Meryl Yourish blogs, asking Does it bother you to know that I'm Jewish? Does it make a difference in the way you perceive my words? Do you hate me now that you know? Will you stop reading a weblog written by a Jew? ….Would you kill me because I am Jewish?

Her essay is frightening and poignant, eloquent and painful. She is an honest and elegant writer, and I am glad I found her.

Yourish writes about her friendship in college with a Polish girl. I am Polish on both sides of my family as far back as anyone can document – except for one Swedish guy who managed to slip in somewhere back in the very early days. The historical relationship between Jews and Poles in Poland is problematic to say the least, and the same is true of how members of my family here in America feel, I am sad to say. My parent’s best friends were a Jewish couple, and my mother kept in touch with Gerry long after her husband and my Dad died. Gerry died last year at the age of 90, and my mother still misses talking to her. On the other hand, I have relatives who still say the most awful things about Jewish people. But then, again, they say awful things about anyone who isn’t Polish.

I grew up in a Polish ghetto in the city of Yonkers, New York, back in the 1940s, when Polish immigrants flooded that city’s streets because they connect very easily out to Ellis Island. I also grew up bilingual, having been taught to speak Polish along with English in the parochial school across the street from our house. As a child, I remember being derisively called a “greenhorn” by the more Americanized citizens. I didn’t like it, but I just switched to speaking English, and then I was like everyone else. The kinds of hatred Meryl Yourish knows I never knew.

Generally, I grew up proud to be Polish. My paternal grandmother (born Mary Sklodowska) was Madam Curie’s (born Marie Sklodowska) first cousin and remembered her from their early days in Sklody, the town in Poland where they both grew up. I danced in a Polish troupe when I was a young teenager. My early years progressed safely in the bosom of a large clan, tribe, extended family that faithfully kept us youngsters faithful to all of the old traditions.

For my freshman research paper in college, I chose to focus on the activities Polish Underground as they helped Jews to escape the Warsaw Ghetto through the sewers. I knew that there were plenty of my “countrymen” who had opted for more secure politics, but I always felt proud of those who threw their lots in with their Jewish neighbors. That research paper was lost long ago, but I often wish I could go back and read through it again. I would like my kids to read it.

I don’t really get in to my ethnic heritage much these days. Oddly enough, my daughter is using my mother’s old recipes and teaching herself to make all of the Polish foods that I never bothered to learn how to make.

What has that all to do with Meryl Yourish and her blog? Well, I don’t understand anti-Semitism either. I don’t understand any kind of bigotry. As I used to tell my Dad, I know what side I’m on when the revolution comes.
Now, Here's A Heroine For You
A 1200 pound cow has escaped from a local slaughterhouse by jumping a 6-foot fence at Ken Meyer Meats. I say, you go girl!
BLOG SISTERS has arrived!
Sorry Eagle
You've just got to run over to b!X's and check out Ashcroft (literally) singing his new song. It's a good thing I blogroll before breakfast or else I really would have lost it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

More Thoughts on Violence
I'm lifting this off Steve Himmer's site because I don't want to forget it. There's more to be said, I just don't have the time to say it now. No, I'm not working on my taxes, I'm going to work on my future grandson's bunting and watch some mindless tv. Anyway, this is from Steve:

Why should we be surprised at the violence and cruelty of our children when it is increasingly what we value in the adult world? 'Journalists' are paid to insult rather than inform, thousands of people obsess over what one celebrity may have called another, and we are glued to our televisions to watch the strong pick on the weak, whether in politics, war, or wrestling. And yet we ask more of our children than we expect of ourselves.
Take Time Out
Take some time out (I did, so my taxes still aren't done) to get on Anita's site and tell her what you would do to make the world better if you were give a budget of a trillion U.S. dollars. (I guess she stole the question from Kuro5hin,but I didn't see it there so I'm glad I saw it here.)

Of course, I like my answer, which is:
After I publish my daughter's novels and make sure my son has enough money to live on the rest of his life so that he doesn't have to work, I'd pay off my debts. Then I would hire the best minds to figure out how to take over the world's economy so that we could make sure everyone has the resources to meet at least the first two of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and then had meaningful paid work and access to other resources that enable them to accomplish the rest -- and that includes high end computers with high speed internet access and free blogs for everyone. And if there was anything left over, certainly little red sports cars for everyone who wants one.

If you haven't commented on Anita's site, comment here.

What occurred to me as I was looking through the list of Maslow's needs was that bloggers probably have had the whole list met, and that's why they have they luxury of and resosurces to blog. People who can afford computers and internet access generally, probably have had at least 6 of the 8 needs met. If you didn't link to Maslow's list (above), here they are, in brief:
1) Physiological: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, etc.;
2) Safety/security: out of danger;
3) Belonginess and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted;
4) Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition;
5) Cognitive: to know, to understand, and explore;
6) Aesthetic: symmetry, order, and beauty;
7) Self-actualization: to find self-fulfillment and realize one's potential; and
8) Transcendence: to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential.

So, I'm wondering just what percent of the world's population has reached that "self-actualization" level and how many have actually gotten to "transcendence." I know that there are many many many, many, and still many, more still struggling to get the very first one taken care of. So what am I doing still sitting here blogging? I guess I haven't yet reached transcendence.
Death, Taxes, and Slogging Blogger
I've already blogged about death. Today it's taxes. It's always Slogging Blogger.

I hate doing taxes, especially because of the small craft business I have. (So I hire someone to do them for me, but I still have to get all the figures figured out.) I hate accounting and I hate math. I got through Geometry in high school just fine, but I never really got Trig. As a matter of fact, my Trig teacher told me that if I were going to take any more courses from her, she wasn't going to teach them. I managed to get out of taking any more math in college by taking science, which I liked a lot better. In an email conversation I had with Jeneane, she suggested that there are so few females joining in the complex and often technical blogging conversations for the same reason many females have math phobia. What are those reasons? Well, I have my own perspective on that!

Well, I always find ways to make it through the math. But there's nothing I can do about Slogging Blogger. I guess it's just becoming much too popular. There's gotta be a way for Ev to make some money on this! (I did my part -- got the Pro.)

Back to the taxes.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

To Dance or Not to Dance
Every Sunday evening there's a ballroom dance being held somewhere near me, and I used to go to all of them -- in addition to dancing somewhere else at least once during the week. I just got back from one of these Sunday dances, and I'm wondering if it's time to let that part of me go. It just doesn't seem to be fun any more; I'm not sure why, and I need to think that through more. How do you know when it's time to let go of a part of your life that has always been a part of your life. Dancing has always been my exercise, my social life, my hobby, my time to have fun. But it's not really fun any more and I don't know why. One of my favorite lines (because it's true) is "The reason I like ballroom dancing so much is because it's the one place in my life where I enjoy turning over the lead to a man." Maybe my apathy about dancing these days has something to do with the male-female dynamics that are such a basic component of dancing with a partner. I write a monthly column for a regional dance magazine about -- well about whatever I feel like writing about. The last two months my columns have been about "following" and "connection." Maybe I just don't feel any "connection" with any of the guys I dance with. Maybe it's that there are now quite a few younger women who are good dancers and who are getting the good dance partners. ( And I'm the one who used to be one of the better young female dancers! ) Maybe I am just (psychologically) feeling my age. Maybe my blog is not the place to muse about this. Maybe I'd better just go to bed. Damn.
Another Reason Why I Love My Kid So Much And Think He's So Cool
He is totally honest in what he feels and what he writes. I want to give him a big physical hug, only I can't because he's across the country from me. So I have to resort to this virtual one.

Saturday, February 23, 2002

The Company of Women (Most Pisces)
Anita's blogroll includes a sub-section of Piscean bloggers (all of which at the moment are women), and that section includes me. So, it's no surprise that she just beat me to blogging a piece that took the words right out of my head. The only thing I want to add is that, having been a 8th grade English teacher who taught grammar and related stuff, I like Dennis Mahoney's Write a Better Weblog. I still remember the concerned discussions we (policy staff of the New York State Education Department) had about the deterioriation of language as reflected in IRC, emails etc. From what I have experienced, I think that blogging is taking the use of language in a wonderful new -- and upward -- direction.

But back to Piscean women. While I find astrology fascinating and often weirdly accurate, my more logical mind prevents me from letting go of my skepticism. However, it's interesting to note that I am good friends (we have a "group" and meet at least monthly) with five other women whose birthdays fall between February 16th and April 6th, with me somewhere in the middle. Now, that doesn't make us all Pisces, but we're pretty close. The really interesting fact is that the "group" started out -- a decade ago -- much larger, as a "Women's Forum," sponsored by a singles organization to which we all belonged. (I still do.) I facilitated the forum, often at my apartment. The six of us ultimately broke away and formed our own circle, and we didn't realize until afterward how close our birthdays are. We continue to go on vacations together, and we have helped each other weather illnesses, including cancer (not me); relationships that happened and then dissolved (including me); and family tragedies (the recent wake I went to). We've also celebrated together the good things in life -- the births of grandchildren, professional promotions, the highs of new love affairs, and the pleasures of this company of women.

It's too bad that we don't see many men having the benefits of such extended support. (Although many men have been on the other end of our group's rituals to empower one or the other of us to break painful emotional ties to one or another of those men. Hee. Hee. Cackle. Cackle.)

Hey, I love you guys, but as you know, women our age (51 through 61) and education (B.A. through J.D.) are about as likely to find a suitable mate as we are to get shot by a sniper. But blogging is a really good diversion, and menopause is a really good excuse.

Friday, February 22, 2002

So Glad I Saw Her!
I haven't watched much of the Olympics, but I did have my tv on late enough last night to catch Sarah Hughes' amazing skating performance. That was as close to floating on air as I've ever seen. There's no doubt in my mind that she well deserved the gold medal. And I was equally impressed with her mature ability to express her feelingsverbally and in front of a camera and a global audience. What a remarkable girl!
When we reveal our weaknesses, we show our true strength. That’s the parodox of being human. – I heard that today watching "First Wave" on the Sci Fi channel.

And that seemed to go along with what Geek Icon Andrea Roceal James blogged the other day:

I specialize in not specializing in anything. I've already blogged complaints about having too many things to be interested in. I wonder maybe if I'm too eclectic sometimes. There have been times when I've seen it as a weakness. For now, I consider myself simply an aspiring Renaissance Woman. Besides, Jeneane Sessum's powerful articulateness is hard to equal, no matter what gender you are.

I like this gal, Andrea. She reminds me of a (much younger) me. And I like Anita Bora because she’s “authentic.” She doesn’t try to impress, and in not trying, she does.

I sure do know what it’s like to have so many interests that you don’t really have time to focus on any one. My ex-husband used to call me a “dilettante” – a term he deemed derisive. However, like Andrea, I have always considered myself a Renaissance Woman. Sometimes I know just enough about something to make me dangerous. But mostly, I think I come out a strong B+ in just about everything I get myself into.

I hope that I’m smart enough to defer to minds like Jeneane’s and Mike Sanders' when it comes to articulating the cultural dimensions and implications of this blogging phenomenon. And smart enough not to compete with Marek and Mike Golby when it comes to their ability to “take off” verbally in blogland on just about any subject.

Andrea’s blog reminds me that I need to remember to be ME and to go where my interests lead and not be swept away by the tsunami brains of the Alpha Folks. And I really have to learn how to store images and files on my server so that I can get my stuff out there. Like, did you now that I have a small “craft” business (called Sass&Chic) and make my own designs: the “Spiral Shawl” and the “Adjustable Indestructible Hat.” I recently quilted an amazing jacket for myself, and I get the biggest kick out of taking old clothes and remaking them.

I long ago decided that, when the “revolution” comes (that’s the one that’s going to supress America into a new dark age), my skills are going to be very valuable as our economic system collapses and we are forced back into bartering::
-- I can remake almost any pieces of old clothing into something funky and attention-getting
-- I know how to cut hair
-- I can take whatever’s in the refrigerator and turn it into a really fantastic meal

Of course, that dark age isn't here yet, so I’d better spend some time on this server business. And then maybe I can do what Richard Cody is doing and get a poetry page up for myself.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

A Little History

Thanks to Mike Golby's pointers, I have been reading recent posts and related comments on burningbird’s and wonderchicken’s (and, of course, b!X’s) sites about our current government’s, again, inept handling of relationships with other countries – this time, Korea.

In her post, burningbird asks: I wonder when Ashcroft will decide that weblogging is anti-patriotic?

And in the middle of the ensuing discussion/comments Rogi makes one statement that terrifies me.
But if i'm going to say what I think then I'll do it somewhere else, like, uh, Switzerland or something. Not here on American weblog territory. I'll do something sometime soon and point you to it from my deep bunker.;)

I remember a time when, while it was sometimes dangerous to physically go out and protest and make one’s political stance and opinions known – and known personally and LOUDLY – we did it by the thousands – the hundreds of thousands. Most of you reading this would have been toddlers or maybe pre-teens during those times, or maybe even still, as they used to say, a “gleam in your father’s eye.” (I always hated that phrase; it gives all credit for blatant sexuality to the guy!)

We were in our twenties and thirties, some even older. The Viet Nam War angered us, humiliated us, tore our hearts out. We protested as our situations would allow. My (ex) husband created anti-war theater pieces and supported the protests of the college students on the campus where he taught. I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler (b!X) and his sister Melissa, who was around 8 or 9, so my protests were limited. One of our favorite family stories was about my sewing up huge a pseudo-flag made of candy-striped material with a big star-studded peace sign appliqued in the corner. I hung it from a tree on our property that faced the main road. All of the other houses in our rural neighborhood had their American flags proudly posted in response to the President’s request for all citizens to put out their flags for the Labor Day weekend.

Within an hour, my neighbor across the street was on the phone yelling at me about that “thing” I had waving in their faces while her husband cursed “those Commies” etc. etc. from the background. I explained what it was and that I had the same right to hang it up on my property as she had to display Old Glory. And then I followed through on my plans to take the kids down to visit my parents, who lived 150 miles away. The next day, we got a phone call from my husband (who didn’t come with us) saying that when he got home that night, he found my peace banner torn into strips, rolled into balls, and tossed all over our yard. While he had thought that my hanging the banner was like waving a red flag into front of a bunch of already-crazed bulls, he was really pissed that someone (probably a neighbor) actually would come up and destroy what was on our property when no one was home. He wrote a letter to the (then) Hearst newspaper defending my right to do what I did. They published it in a box in the center of the Opinion page. And for weeks after we got phone calls telling us that “they were coming to get us.” Nothing happened.

If someone were to do that today, what do you suppose would happen?

Of course, history documents much more vocal, well-attended, and explosive protests during that time. The point is that those in my generation felt obligated – and free enough – to stick their faces out there and open their physical mouths. I’m not saying that there weren’t unfair arrests and trials among the leaders of various movements. But I am saying that even innocuous people like me felt the need to take a public stand.

Now just about all of the stands are virtual. And we are all afraid that even that is going to get us into trouble.

Remember, b!X, when we marched on the Pentagon to protest our government’s involvement in Guatemala? That hot summer day among those thousands and thousands of banners and signs and sweaty chants for justice and peace? You were only about 9 years old and you got a bloody nose just before we got to the Pentagon, and dozens of people appeared with ice and kleenex and advice on how to stop it. And we sat in the shade on a little hill to eat our lunches and wait to see if that other bunch really would “levitate” the Pentagon, as they promised they would.

What are the chances of that happening today? (Not the levitating – the actual marching by the thousands, openly and vocally demanding a change in the decisions and actions of our political leaders.)

And I also remember, b!X, when, during the Gulf War, you bussed down from Albany -- and your sister went from New York City after marching there first -- to protest in Lafayette Park. And she rounded a corner, and there you were, drumming on an upturned plastic pail. I still have the picture she took of you displayed proudly on my wall.

After I heard about my cousins' kids, I wrote:

Desert Storm: A Family Scapbook

Someone’s son huddles
gravely under desert rain.
restless as his heartbeat,
he waits for signs in the sky
to turn the taste of metal
in his mouth to blood.

Someone’s daughter,
leather jacketed, baseball capped,
takes her place in U.N. Square,
lights a candle against the wind, and
joins her voice to the hymn
that pulses like blood
through the streets, through the night,
through the weary dreams of men
reduced to war.

Someone’s daughter runs
from classroom through snow,
stuffs her duffle to bursting
with camouflage and conviction,
prays for the chance
to set the skies ablaze with truth.
At the table of her father’s house,
she waits for orders
and watches the colors of dawn
melt like blood into sand.

Someone’s son
boards a bus at midnight,
sheathed in a confusion of
army surplus and disbelief.
He joins the dawn in Lafayette Park,
seeking solace – if not answers –
in the steady drum,
the solid hands,
the strong songs
of sons and daughters
refusing to bleed
for the dreams of weary men
reduced to war.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

I was feeling a little bad about myself but I just rolled down my bloglist and now I don’t

All day today I thought about the things (not necessarily such nice things) that I’m having to admit to myself about myself as a result of becoming a blogger:
1. I am more competitive than I thought I was
2. I really DO want to be famous (or at least a little famous)
3. I DO care what people think of me (at least some people)
4. I like to start new things but I’m not used to persevering
5. My ability to organize and keep things straight in my head is even worse than I thought (How the hell does everyone remember where they read what they read so that they can go back and lift the good stuff out for links?)

On the other hand, folks like Andrea whom I hadn’t heard of are finding my blog and liking it. And, from them, I learn all kinds of things I’m glad to know. I found out from his blog that Richard Cody writes truly fine poetry and he has been published on various web sites. I hadn’t thought of doing that with my own stuff. So now I am – at least thinking about it.

Folks of whom I have heard continue to blog perspectives that force me to keep re-examining concepts that I thought I was through examining. Mike Sanders’ blog is one of those that always throws so much at me that I would have to spend all day and night at the keyboard to be able to work through all of the sparks in my own head that his words ignite.

This particular one of Sanders' has been smoldering in the back of my mind: Almost all the reasons given for blogging seem to be pragmatic. It is no big surprise idealism is dying, but with all the individual expression in blogging, I hoped we would see some more burning embers.

Actually, I long ago realized that I wasn’t going to change the world. I also realized, however, that I could change little pieces of it, and I could affect the people with whom I come in contact. Mostly, though, I have all I can do to hold fast to the place in which I want to stand based on my ideals and values. My dream has always been that, if there are enough people of heart and hope, of conscience and compassion, and if there were a way for them to somehow connect with each other, there really might be the possibility of generating a sea change (as in the “hundredth-monkey concept).

And I suspect that, despite all of the “individual expression” we see in blogging, underneath it all is that same ember burning – we all want the world to change for the better. How do we know but that blogging might wind up being the catalyst for such a change. Of course, Marek, bless his convoluted Polish soul, might be able to do that all by himself. But just in case he can’t, what we can do is keep blogging.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Warning for the Snifflers!
I've lost track of all of the bloggers I've read in the past week who are down with colds, flu, sinus stuff. And that includes, you, Jeneane! Check out the alert regarding products that contain Phenylpropanolamine. These include certain Alka Seltzer, Dimetap and a whole bunch of other stuff that I know that I have sitting in my medicine chest. The danger of phenylpropanolamine was circulated as an Urban Legend, only this time is a true one. Don't take that next pill until you check out the list.
The First Casualty of War is the Truth
“Though planting disinformation against hostile nations is a longtime tactic in military information warfare, the new Pentagon office wants to broaden the mission into allied nations in the Middle East, Asia and even Western Europe, ….”

NBC news tonight pretty much reported word for word what The Nando Times had posted online.

“Critics fear a backlash from allies. They also worry that false information released to sway people in foreign countries will be picked up and spread back to America by international news organizations.”

Somebody ought to clue in Brig. Gen. Simon P. Worden, head of Dubbaya’s shadowy new Office of Strategic Influence (read: Ministry of Propaganda). Bloggers would have it spread, analyzed, discussed, refuted, and ridiculed long before international news organizations had time to get the OK to make any kind of statement.
Oh Well, At Least I Tried
Well, I've been informed by that they are cancelling their efforts to have a kind of online discussion with volunteers choosing topics and facilitating. I had signed up to do one on "Being the Filler in the Sandwich Generation." But they cancelled that one aspect of their site. They're still based in Portland, Maine, and offer all kinds of on-site programs, including computer literacy. "If I had a million dollars...." I would get up to speed on how to do web sites and really come up with an interactive web site for seniors. Meanwhile, I'll just keep on blogging.
Another "This Is Why I Love the Web"
I just picked this up from the Wild Wolf Women of the Web Listserv. Totally irrelevant but fascinating fact:

As the clock ticks over from 8:01PM on Wednesday, February 20th, 2002, time will (for sixty seconds only) read in perfect symmetry. To be more precise: 20:02, 20/02, 2002. It is an event which has only ever happened once before, and is something which will never be repeated. The last occasion that time read in such a symmetrical pattern was long before the days of the digital watch (or the 24-hour clock): 10:01AM, on January 10, 1001. And because the clock only goes up to 23.59, it is something that will never happen again. Neat, huh?
Sense Remembering
It's 41 degrees in Albany, New York today, so I took my mom out for a rather slow walk around our building, then left her to sit in the sun while I picked up the pace in an effort to lower my most recent blood pressure, cholestrol, and weight readings. The air is deliciously crisp; meandering breezes play softly across my face; the sky beams bright blue, the sun a winter warm. As I close my eyes in sheer pleasure, I have a clear sense memory of lying in my 1940 baby carriage with that gray oil-cloth cover that went from my feet to my chin snapped in place so that only my face is explosed. I love the way my nose and cheeks feel cold while the rest of me is toasty. I drift in and out of a light sleep, with the faint sounds of children playing, trucks rumbling, mothers chatting. All is right with my tiny world. I hope that it feels like that when I die.
This is Why I Love the Web!
In addition to all of the misinformation and lies that might be circulating out there, there are people who know the truths and take the time to correct them. For example, a comment from Gary proved to me that Billy Connolly DOES use the web. And now I also know who Billy Connelly is. Because I didn't before.

And people like Anita keep us connected to the things that are REALLY important.

Monday, February 18, 2002

Oh Hell, Why Not

David Weinberger’s JOHO is a great site that I read but have never linked to. Same goes for Steve Himmer’s, Doc Searls’, and AKMA’s, the last of which includes those guys (and more) in what he calls “The Usual Posse.” I will continue to wonder why, besides Jeneane Sessum, there are not more such powerfully articulate females blogging into the current important verbal excursions into the unknown.

The other day, David blogged something that was emailed to him by Vergil Iliescu:
In Billy Connolly’s biography, written by his wife Pamela Stevenson, she notes that Billy doesn’t use the internet because the people who do are “the kind of people you wouldn’t talk to in a pub anyway” (or something like that, I’m quoting from memory).

In truth, the bloggers I’ve "met" – in addition to those I just mentioned -- are JUST the kind of people I WOULD want to talk to in a pub -- even though, more truthfully, I probably would have only hung around the edges of their conversation, listening and feeling intimidated. Well, I might have moved in a little closer after my first bourbon. I might even have tried to insert a small word of my own into the density of it all, although I don’t think I would have succeeded.

Their kind of meandering and meaningful, complex and creative verbal exercises work on the web because there’s enough empty space and time out there for their larger-than-life personas, their mega-metaphors, and their massive energy surges. They could never be contained in any one pub. And so, without the internet, I would never have had a chance – or the courage -- to insinuate myself into such intricately connected monologues. Keeping up with them, though, is something else entirely. (pant….pant…..wheeze….wheeze)
Ooops, I Did It Again

After my ritual morning roll in the blog, I find myself in the shower humming “Ooops, I did it again…”

I did it a few years ago, when on a whim I submitted some of my poetry about the mythic Lilith (Adam’s first wife) to a book on that subject being put together by the Jewish Women’s Resource Center in New York City. It was advertised as a publication written by Jewish women, and I’m not even Jewish. But eventually I find two of my pieces in Which Lilith: Feminist Writers Recreate the World's First Woman, nestled in among some major and intimidating prose and poetry, including an introduction by Naomi Wolfe. I’m the only writer represented who isn’t Jewish.

I seem to have a pattern of signing up for leagues that are way beyond my own.

And so I find myself now in the deepest of uncharted spaces – not swimming with sharks, but rather with mermen, sea sprites, mysterious bloggods big banging out a new universe and sucking me into to wordpools way out of my depths. What have I done in blogrolling so brazenly into this hierarchy of hyperbole, this maelstrom of metaphors, this mad mad mad mad mad mad whirl?

Which Lilith, indeed. Which Jeneane? Which Marek? Which Gary? Which Mike?

Sunday, February 17, 2002

What I'm Cooking
I like to cook but I don't like to clean up after. (I cook dinner every night and eat it with my mom.) Anyway, my "fear of blogging" friend was supposed to come over and have supper with my mother and me this evening but she had to cancel. So, mom and I are sharing homemade cream of chicken and broccoli soup, honey whole wheat bread from Montana Mills, and a mixed green salad with this great dressing that I just improvised made of (I don't really measure) a healthy tablespoon of frozen orange juice concentrate, a scant tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, some ground up sesame seeds, some ground up walnuts, and less than a half cup walnut oil -- oh and a clove of minced garlic. I put it all in a blender. You sort of have to add the amount of oil to your own taste, but I think this is close. And I think I'll take the few homemade pierogi that we have leftover from Christmas out of the freezer and have those too. Eat your heart out, girlfriend!
The Last About Losses
Gee, I don't want to get everyone too maudlin -- I managed to get Mike going really good -- but his piece motivates me to say this last thing.

There is a poem by Theodore Roethke that I want read at my wake (well, I don't really want a wake; I want a real bash, with music and everything). Do you hear that bix? The poem is the Fourth Meditation from his "Meditations of an Old Woman."

Anyway, I went and dug up the book I have with that poem in it. Bix's dad gave me a Roethke's collection Words for the Wind soon after we met in college. His note to me in the front page says October 31, 1960. It seems like several lifetimes ago. We split when bix was 4 or 5. So much lost.

Here's the beginning of the Roethke's poem:
I was always one for being alone,
Seeking in my own way, eternal purpose;
At the edge of the field waiting for the pure moment;
Standing, silent, on sandy beaches or walking
along green embankments
Knowing the sinuousness of small waters:

and later on

Was it yesterday I stretched out the
thin bones of my innocence?
O the songs we hide, singing only to ourselves!
Once I could touch my shadow and be happy;
In the white kingdoms, I was light as a seed,
Drifting with the blossoms,
A pensive petal.

and it ends with:

Is my body speaking? I breathe what I am:
The first and last of all things.
Near the graves of the great dead,
Even the stones speak


If you don't know Roethke, read more of his stuff at
I Like This Local Columnist
Diane Cameron has a column in our Sunday newspaper that I always read. Today's is about propaganda.

She says:
We like to think, of course, that "they'' do propaganda while "we'' do public education, but sometimes there's a very fine line dividing information, public service, propaganda and even the "news.''

Having been a writer doing "public education" on the topic of education for many years, I really like this article.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Saturday Night Ramblings
I sat with my mom tonight and we watched "Dying Young" on tv. My mom is sure not young; she'll be 86 on Monday. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her nestled into my couch, this tiny woman who daily is sort of compressing toward her middle. I have to keep taking the hems up on her slacks and finding ways to let out the waist bands. I think to myself -- she is dying. She's not sick, but she is old. She is just waiting for it to happen. And I am here waiting with her.

We are all dying. From the moment we're born we begin to die. Tonight I think about that, the wake I went to the other night, my life as an undertaker's daughter, living above the funeral chapels as a kid. Our lives are bound to cycles, circadian, seasonal, menstrual....and all of the minor and major violences that go along with the process of everything always dying.

l remember a time in my life -- actually not that long ago -- when not having a date on Saturday night and admitting that one didn't have a date on a Saturday night -- was DEATH! I obviously have embarked upon another life's cycle.

When I turned 50, I threw myself a big party and invited lots of friends. At one point I made them each stand up and say something nice about me because I'd rather them do it then when I could enjoy the compliments rather than have them do it at my wake. I loved hearing the funny and nice and irreverent and kind and outrageous things they said. And then I had a friend who's into shamanic stuff do a ritual for me to symbolize my entrance into a more "wise" time of my life. Well, nice try. I'm still waiting for that time to come.

I live surrounded by people who are waiting to die. Oh they're not just sitting and waiting -- they play pinochle and bridge and billiards; they go for walks and sit and chat and complain a lot; some even still drive -- although most of them shouldn't. The apartments are upscale and there's a new town park being built right next door. Maybe if I were 80 I wouldn't mind living here. There are even small community garden "plots." I wrote a poem about the one I had last summer. It began "They gave me a garden the size of a grave..." Actually, it wasn't as depressing as it sounds. I went on to write that "I filled it with raucous reminders of sense.............."

And I guess tonight I sit here trying to make some sense out of all of this. And all of this blogging over the past few days in connection with Marek, Gary, and Mike about what this is all about. There's energy being created here, energy to power new cycles, maybe new poems. And there is no violence. There is a lot of heart.
Don't Call Me Madame
I had a interesting reaction to Gary Turner addressing me (in a comment) as Madame K. I remember the first time a store clerk called me "Ma'am," and I turned around to see if there was some other lady he might be addressing. There wasn't. I know that I make a point of my age (I'm on a quest for "elders" among bloggers), but, in truth I prefer to be thought of as just one of the blogger gang. Aunt Owwee did put me on to someone older than I am -- Ava at From The Edge, and I'm adding her to my blogroll.

OK. So now I'll start making my incredible chicken soup. Yes Sir!
Time to Link to This
Every other blogger I know has linked to this great "Blogger Manifesto" that Chris Pirillo posted a while ago and has recently edited a little. But I'll bet some of my non-blogger friends who check my site every once in while might find it interesting as well, so here it is in kalilily time. Actually, I don't egosurf (#10) because I don't know how, and I would have other names in #12. But otherwise, yeah.
1. Life is uncensored.
2. My blog does not capture the full me.
3. Judge my thoughts, but not me.
4. If you don't like what you see, look elsewhere.
5. I love talking about my life.
6. I love writing about other people's lives.
7. I will post whenever I feel like posting.
8. I don't have to blog every meme.
9. You don't have to agree with everything I say.
10. I egosurf Daypop, Google, and Blogdex nightly.
11. I share what I want to share.
12. I like linking to Dave, Doc, Evan, and Cam.
13. Blogging is theraputic.
14. Pictures of myself are not obligatory.
15. I visit every site in my blogroller regularly.
16. I won't post for the sake of posting.
17. I have a life outside of blogging.
18. I have registered my blogging tool(s).
19. I may criticize other bloggers, not harass them.
20. I have the right to revise a post.
21. When blogging becomes a chore, I'll quit doing it.
22. I've given something back to the blogging community.
23. If I want to complain about something, I will.
24. If I want to praise something, I will.
25. I am not the best blogger on the planet.
26. I don't have to explain myself to you.
My Morning Cup-a Blog
When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is turn on my computer and check my email and blog comments. I guess that's a pattern leftover from my former office job, where I also used to spend some time in the a.m. checking in with everyone and starting topical discussions that we would continue throughout the day. That's another activity that blogging has replaced. It was very frustrated this morning when Blogger wouldn't accept my posts -- threw my whole day off. I actually got some dusting done, which I had to do because my allergies are giving me terrible sinusitis. (Are there people out there who actually dust regularly? I don't even vacuum regularly!)

Friday, February 15, 2002

It's Gotta Be A "Guy" Thing
Violence is what comes to Gary Turner's mind when he thinks about the web. Guys just seem to like pissing contests. Set 'em up; knock 'em down. I don't seem to see much affinity for violent metaphors from Meg Hourihan, or Anita Bora or Jeneane Sessum or any number of other female bloggers' sites that I discover in my energetic linkings. Back in the 80s there were all kinds of studies being done about the difference between the way the two genders communicate and work. Guys tend to compete; gals tend to cooperate. Guys prefer to line up the pieces; gals want to see the configurations, the relationship of one piece to the others. So for many of those of my gender, the web is this immense cooperative venture, this mother of all networks, this amazing set of sticky threads worthy of Arachne herself. So piss away, you guys. We'll just keep spinning.

Actually, I'm knitting -- this amazing sherbet-colored striped bunting for my soon-to-be grandson. No violence there.
Fear of Blogging
I’ve mentioned several times that I keep looking for bloggers in the more senior generation, and I’m not finding any/many. Earlier this evening I was telling one of my friends about the joys of blogging, and she expressed great concern that I am letting my name get out onto the web. She won’t even order anything online for fear of having her credit card – and her identity – stolen. She believes that everyone online out there is lying about who they are and that I am putting myself at great risk. I couldn’t convince her otherwise. So now I’m wondering if older folk tend to believe all of the negative hype and are convinced that it’s all porno-freaks and potential rapists and that’s why they’re not blogging. (Actually, it’s probably because they just aren’t geeky enough.) So, my goal is to become the oldest living blogger in bloggerland. That is unless there is no such person as Mike Golby and he's not really across the globe somewhere, and whoever he is is outside my building right now preparing to take my credit cards and sell me into white slavery.
Awake After A Wake
I just got home from attending the wake of the mother of one of my best friends. The woman is dead at 73 from ALS and dementia. I’m only a dozen years younger.
It's a Bird! It's a Butterfly! It's CYBERMOM!
Hee hee. My fantasy come true!

(Except that I feel that I've ridden out of obscurity on my son's coat-tails. He's the real blog-king in this family! Ya' know when someone gets an award, they thank their Mom etc.? Well, I owe it all to b!X, bless his too-often-broken heart!)
Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.....
So now we're cloning kittens. (b!X beat me to posting this story)

Whaddya think of that, Anita?
From Enron to Piper
As far as I'm concerned, the story in Piper Kansas about student plagiarism just shows how far we've come in this country from having any sense of ethics, any concern for what's fair and right.

Now, what would have happened if the kids in Piper had the tools to be able to do their projects on a weblog. They would have understood how to hyperlink and easily give credit to the source of their information. While it's easy to steal others' ideas and text via the Internet, it's also easy to hyperlink/credit the source. Every kid should be schoolblogging and learning the ethics of information sharing.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

An Addendum to the Names Post
I meant to mention that you should read how Aunt Owwee got her name.
Wow! Words As Lethal Weapons
Hmm. Here I was, innocently slobbering verbally over Leonard Cohen's lyrics and the next thing I know, my ramblings drift out into cyberspace and spark a hot disagreement between Mike Golby and Marek J. -- both of whom I have a great deal of respect for. When our words are the only indication of what we really mean (there's no obviously sly wink of an eye, no friendly punch in the arm, to communicate other intention), as they are in online communication, we'd better be careful how we load up our sentences if we really don't intend any harm. Hmm. So this is what happens when butterflies hyperlink?
The Naming of Things
I finally figured out how to change the name that come up after my posts -- from kali lily (which really should have been kalilily, which has been my email name since I've had email) to my actual name, Elaine. By now, I'm scattered over various blogrolls under names ranging from "bix's mom" to kalilily to kali lily to Elaine Frankonis, which is my whole name. What's in a name, anyway?

b!X was not born b!X. He had a given name and a nickname. Somewhere along the line he became Slowdog. Then, Baby-X, which got contracted somehow into bix, or as he prefers it, b!X. Or else theonetruebix.

My daughter and son-in-law have chosen Alexander William as their son's name. They'll call him Zander (as in Buffy's sidekick) or maybe Lex. And someday he'll choose what he wants to be called. Maybe I'll call him Zanderbill.

And what will he call me, as my first grandchild. His other grandmother already has some grandkids and they all call her Grandma. My mom has been Nanny to my kids. Maybe I'll go for GranElaine, which, no doubt, he will shorten to Granny. Or maybe not. There are some very funny stories about how kids distort the names their grandparents want to be called, and those weird names stick.

There are all kinds of sites about naming and names. This one's interesting: And there are 525,000 names listed on and you can get a free brief analysis of your name. This is what it says about my name:

The name of Elaine creates a friendly, sociable, charming nature, but causes you to be too easily influenced by others. While you find it easy to meet and mix, and can appear agreeable and compromising in conversation, you can become dogmatic and forceful if pressed too far. Others learn that you cannot be told what to do and you seldom change your mind once it is made up. You prefer situations that allow a degree of independence, but are reluctant to take on a demanding work-load or responsibility. In a position dealing with the public, you could do well because of your friendly personality, interest in people, and desire to please. When asked, you are able to give others good advice that you would probably not follow yourself, but must guard against being too opinionated in controversial matters. The physical weaknesses due to this name centre in the fluids of the body and the senses of the head, causing headaches, eye, teeth, or severe sinus conditions; also, kidney or bladder weaknesses.

Actually, that's pretty on target, including "severe sinus conditions."

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Yes. Yes. Yes.
Marek's blog sometimes reads like a lyrical prose-poem. And I just love what he wrote to Mike Golby:
I am guilty of idealism.
The sun has not set on my aspirations.
The poets and artists of this planet will not be quiet.
"Democracy is Coming to the USA." It's coming from unlikely places: South Africa, Ghana, Poland, Chile or any other forgotten nation on this planet.
The new mythology is being born.
Small pieces loosely joined may not be so loosely hyperlinked. The butterflies of the world are hyperlinking to each other's voices and writing themsevels into existence. That existence persists because it's being indexed and cached and linked to on thousands of servers. I wonder what the tipping point will look like

Monday, February 11, 2002

More Benefits of Blogging
There are several women on the Wild Wolf Women of the Web listserv who write poetry. So we have started a private blog to share and critique our stuff. How else would we, who have much in common but are based all over the planet, be able to get together and help each other pursue our love of words and creative writing. That's why I'm so intrigued with the idea of having kids in school use weblogs as one of their learning tools.
I'm still thinking about how to use weblogs to link "senior citizens," who often feel too isolated -- but that will have to wait until the poetry one gets rolling.

Sunday, February 10, 2002

Famous Blue Raincoat
That has to be my favorite album of all times. And my favorite line (from the title song) is "I see you there with a rose in your teeth --just one more thin gypsy thief.." And it's how it's sung by Jennifer Warnes that makes it sound so great!

It was such a warm feeling to see my first born carrying her not-yet-born first. Left her and her husband with bags of frozen home-made pierogi (three different kinds) and all kinds of other comfort foods from her childhood. They are having a boy. Alexander William. My grandson. Who would've ever thunk it.

Friday, February 08, 2002

I'm Huffing and Puffing...
...trying to keep up with my various lives. My mother and I are going to visit my (pregnant) daughter and son-in-law outside of Boston tomorrow. She's finally feeling "up" enough for visitors, and we've packed the car to the roof with foods and other stuffs. I remember when my mom and dad used to do that when they came to visit me and my family when I was married, even though we could well afford to buy all of it on our own. Oh well, that's one of the traits I inherited from my mother that I don't really mind.

I finally got (apparently via Germany) the Famous Blue Raincoat CD I ordered a while ago -- Jennifer Warnes singing Leonard Cohen. One of my favorite albums, the tape of which I used to have and lost in one of my many moves, I guess. Now I can play it on my way tomorrow.

Stumbled up Aunt Owwee's site. Not only am I psyched to have found a blogger more my age, but she has links to some visually stunning blogs, e.g. In Search of a Soul and Sweet Aspirations. Sigh. I so envy people with such visual talents.

I have been in touch with Daniela from, and she has shared some of her poetry with me. I responded deeply to her imagery, and have made myself a promise that, next week, I will send her some of mine.

Since I don't ballroom-dance up a sweat like I used to (when I was out doing that three or four nights a week), I've started taking a NIA class on Thursday evenings. Much more interesting than Aerobics and just as aerobic. the movements are a little yoga, a little Gabrielle Roth, a few ballroom steps -- and best of all, all done to George Michael's Older-- which somehow seems crafted to be danced with NIA. I've been trying to find a copy of the CD and can't seem to.

Son b!X is preparing for his big move out of the dangerous slum in which he now lives. I can only hope that all goes well.

It was like Spring today in Albany NY. Took my mother to Sam's Club, where we bought huge bags of grapefruit and oranges to take to pregnant Melissa. I figure that you can't have enough fresh Vitamin C.

Am overwhelmed with more than 75 posts a day from the Wild Wolf Women of the Web listserv. I'm trying to remember why I re-subscribed.

Pointed to this by a former colleague:
ANGERED BY SNUBBING, LIBYA, CHINA SYRIA FORM AXIS OF JUST AS EVIL. Hee. Hee. It's worth reading the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Arrogance vs. Self Esteem
I'm totally taken with Mike Sanders invitation to think about self esteem, self control, self appraisal and arrogance.... and having fun and living purposefully.

Earlier this week, he cited an article in the NY Times Magazine entitled The Trouble with Self Esteem. According to that article:
Last year alone there were three withering studies of self-esteem released in the United States, all of which had the same central message: people with high self-esteem pose a greater threat to those around them than people with low self-esteem and feeling bad about yourself is not the cause of our country's biggest, most expensive social problems.

It seems to me that self esteem is essential to being able to survive in a society that's in the control of madmen. You have to believe in the strength of your own virtues to help you live "purposefully" and even have a little fun. It's when self esteem degenerates into arrogance that you have the threat alluded to in the Times article. And we have no greater example of this than our own Asses of Evil. Michael Moore's rant pretty much documents the current manifestation of that evil arrogance.

So, if you are a truly virtuous person, and you find yourself living in these times in this place, it seems to me that your self-esteem is your precious lifeline to sanity and whatever joy you can find each day. And there's where blogging really helps. I think that it helps all of our self-esteem. We can say "every day, I put my truth out there, and everyday, someone reads my truths." One of the blog stickers (which I haven't gotten around to putting on here yet because I still have figured out how to use my server to put them on) says "I blog, therefore I am." As soon as you have a reason to say -- and believe --" I AM," you have some fuel for your self-esteem.

The people who have given up are the people who feel bad about themselves -- and they usually do so because evily arrogant others have given them the message that "they ARE NOT..." in so many ways and for so long that they have come to believe it. And so they become victims. And arrogant people always seem to blame their victims for the resulting social and economic problems.
Moore's Rant
Take a look at Michael Moore's "Open Letter to the President." It's awfully long, and it's awe-fully packed with enough indictments of the man in question to get him kicked off his soiled throne in a hurry. This letter needs to appear on the front page of every newspaper. But we know it won't, so how about a link on every blog?
More on Choices
Mike Sanders wonders about "the failings of today's generation given all the choices they have in careers and what have you. That might be part of the problem. When we can focus so much on the outside, we tend to avoid thinking about our internal state. What we do and what we have is a less painful focus than who we are."

I am assuming that I, at age 61, am not of "this generation." Actually, I and many of my friends have spent -- and still spend -- a great deal of time looking inside to try to figure out why we do what we do. Or how what we did affected the people around us, including this generation. In our younger days, we didn't have the range of choices that complicate lives today. But we still had external pressures and expectations -- many of the same ones that this generation has. What's different now, I think, is that the external pressures are magnified by the advertising media, which cleverly and convincingly continues to submerge this generation under layers and layers of unrealistic expectations.

What's different about some of us from my generation, though, is that we believed Joseph Campbell when he adivsed us all to "follow your bliss." I took the time and paid a therapist an awful lot of money to figure out what my bliss was. And it wasn't being rich or owning a lot of high-end stuff. And so I tried to teach my kids that competition does not lead to true satisfaction and that having to prove you're better than someone else is not what gives you self-esteem. And, most of all, I encouraged them to figure out what their bliss really was and to follow it. So I have contributed to this generation one ex-actress turned writer, techie, wife, and future mother and one geek, activist, ranter -- well, even I'm not sure how to categorize theonetruebix.

Now, when I look at Mike Sanders list of virtues, I figure they each have more than half of them. And, of course, I have almost all of them. (Does that mean I have high self-esteem or that I'm arrogant?)

Monday, February 04, 2002

Speaking of Fetuses
The other day, my pregnant daughter emailed me a sonogram of my grandchild. You have to understand that when I was pregnant they didn't have that kind of technology. Now they can even tell you if there might be something wrong with the fetus in case you choose to abort. Talk about ethical issues! Early on, I had long conversations with my daughter about those kinds of choices. I didn't have those choices and in some ways it was a lot easier not to have them. This is a incredible complex world this baby is going to be born into.
TV or Not TV
Anita bemoans the time that tv takes from doing other fun things. I remember when we didn't have a tv. I mean I remember when no one had a tv. And then I remember gathering with my cousins in front of a big cabinet just to watch the black and white pattern on the tiny 9 inch screen. Now, I guess, I watch a lot of tv in the evening because that's the time I can finally sit down and relax and work on a current knitting or crocheting project. I watch to escape, but the programs I watch -- even though they can be classified as prime-time soaps -- usually deal with issues that I want to think about. Tonight, for example Family Law dealt with the ethics of allowing a mother to have labor induced so that stem cells from her 6 month fetus could be used to save her 10-year old son's life. (I also watch Buffy. Heh.)
Stitches in Time
I get the stitches in my finger and hand taken out on Wednesday. I've been able to type OK but I haven't been able to do any crocheting on the vest I was trying to make for my mother's 86th birthday on the 18th. But I should be in shape to start working on the baby bunting for my grandchild so that it's done by July. And I also sent away for a pattern for a Winnie the Pooh. I remember that b!X had a terry cloth Pooh with whom he was never without for the first couple of years. My mother has very bad arthritis, and the cyst taken off my middle finger was related to a bone spur (also taken off) on the first joint, which is the result of arthritis. And arthritis is inherited. One of the not-so-great stitches that knit our generations together. I often ponder about which of my kids' vices and virtues they inherited, which my nurturing (such as it was) is responsible for, and which are totally theirs for whatever reasons.

Friday, February 01, 2002

NOW I Understand!
I got this from a former colleaguewhere I used to work.
For those of us having a hard time understanding this Enron thing .. .. ..
Feudalism: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
Fascism: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them and sells you the milk.
Communism: You have two cows. You must take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.
Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.
Enron: You have two cows. You borrow 80% of the forward value of the two cows from your bank, then buy another cow with 5% down and the rest financed by the seller on a note callable if your market cap goes below $20B at a rate 2 times prime. You now sell three cows to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at a 2nd bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more and this transaction process is upheld by your independent auditor and no Balance Sheet provided with the press release that announces that Enron as a major owner of cows will begin trading cows via the Internet site COW (cows on web).

He Has My Vote reports on Colin Powell at the World Economic Summit:
U.S. Secretary of State Powell seemed most animated when he talked about the causes, namely finding a way to cure the conditions of hopelessness and rage that fuel people who have nothing left to lose. Powell, once considered an afterthought in the Bush administration, may still be on the margins there. But to people outside he has become a major political leader. I would vote for him for president.
So NOW Will I Have More Fun?
Today I am a blonde, sort of.
I went to the hairdresser's yesterday to get a trim and get my hair lightened because the stuff I put on made it much to dark and much too red. So, the result, which is not what I expected, is that I now am a blonde with red highlights. I could tone it down, and maybe I will. But, for now, I think I'll give myself the experience of being a blonde. I might even like it.

Like Gloria Steinham, I lost track of my real hair color years ago. I'm sure by now there's lots of gray, and I'm just not ready to look like a grandmother, yet, although I will become one for the first time this July.